TRUTH Project: Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing


Since its establishment in 2020, Minnesota Transform, the $5M higher education initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has undertaken a variety of projects that support decolonial and racial justice across Minnesota, the Twin Cities, and the University. One of these is the the Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing (TRUTH) Project.

Established in response to the 2020 resolutions written by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) calling on the University of Minnesota to be better relatives to the 11 Tribal Nations, the TRUTH Project is a collaborative effort between MIAC and the University.

What's on the team’s agenda? In January, the 13 Tribal Research Fellows appointed by the tribal nations, University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff gathered for a week of workshops, which gave rise to collaborative co-mentorship pairings between University faculty and the Tribal Fellows. Additional archival research and report writing will be conducted throughout this semester, and the task force plans to produce a report detailing their findings and recommendations for the University on bettering their relations with the Tribal Nations in Minnesota. The TRUTH Project intends to present this report to both tribal and University leadership in June 2022. 


TRUTH Project Storymap

A New Resource

One important resource the TRUTH Project has already published is a strategic analysis of the Morrill land grab in Minnesota, produced in collaboration with Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the Humphrey School. The resource aims to answer the following key questions:

  • What does the University of Minnesota’s land grab equate to in today’s dollars for the Dakota and the Ojibwe tribes? Can a dollar amount be determined for each tribal nation?

  • The sale of tribal lands in Minnesota created an initial endowment for 32 other universities through scrip. How much was taken, by what universities, and how much is this land worth in today’s dollars?

The storymap proves to be an invaluable resource for teaching and learning, and builds on the popular “Land-grab Universities” article by Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone published in the High Country News in March 2020. 



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